The gaming industry is huge. Every year it seems to grow as it comes upon neighborhoods that had resisted it in the past.
One example of this is Jacksonville, North Carolina, which is home to Camp Lejeune, the largest base of the United States Marine Corps. Prior to 2004 there was no lottery in Jacksonville. For several years, those who wanted one pushed the initiative stating that property taxes would not rise as a result of a present lottery.
When it did pass, home owners who gambled on the government not raising taxes found that in 2004 they were going to have more property taxes due at the end of the year. If that wasn’t bad enough, a legal door opened for an opportunity to obtain fast cash with a dollar and a dream.
The real question, though, is how can one tell if they, or a loved one, has a gambling problem.
Identifying Gambling Addiction
According to the American Psychological Association (APA) gambling addiction can be identified by the following behaviors:
- preoccupation with gambling
- a need to gamble with higher wagers just as an alcoholic needs more to drink
- in the face of reducing gambling, a person is irritable or restless
- gambling is used as a means of escapism
- after losing, a person returns, but just “to break even”
Breaking the Gambling Cycle
The cycle can either spin around until it is out of control or one can stop it and let the chips fall where they may. Those who do wish to stop will need help. One place would be a program like Gamblers Anonymous.
Interestingly enough, the phone number for such a place can be found on the billboard advertisements for casinos. While some may joke that the phone number attached to the emboldened phrase Gambling Problem?is really just the reservation line for that particular casino, the truth is that it can be a means of getting help.
Sadly, this vicious cycle can only be broken when the player involved chooses to do something about it. Movie lovers may recall the film Owning Mahoney, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. Hoffman plays a Canadian bank manager who goes so deeply into his addiction that he uses his clients’ lines of credit to keep playing. Initially, he is shown losing a few thousand dollars. In the end, he took millions.
Owning Mahoney is a true story, and at the end Hoffman’s character states to a psychiatrist that from a scale of one to ten gambling gave him the best feeling of a ten. Living the rest of his life as he intended to without gambling ever again, he believed the highest he’d reach is a three.
This “three” included time with loved ones and accomplishing personal and professional goals. Frankly, no prize is worth such a sacrifice. And that’s exactly what the glitz and glamor of gambling is: no prize.